C40 Reinventing Cities: Competition 2019 in Montréal, Canada

“C40 cities are leading the fight against climate change,” says Anne Hidalgo, Chair of C40 and Mayor of Paris. C40 Cities brings together nearly 100 of the world’s largest cities to pave meaningful climate action for a path to a healthier and more sustainable future. Representing more than 700 million people and a quarter of the world’s economy, the mayors of C40 cities are committed to realizing the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement at the city level and improving quality of life.

Among many other activities, the C40 cities have launched a new global competition called Reinventing Cities to promote zero-carbon development in cities around the world and recognize innovative solutions to environmental and urban challenges. Reinventing Cities aims to set new standards for carbon-neutral and resilient development and enable the implementation of projects across a broad spectrum of architecture, typology and site use.

C40 Reinventing Cities: Competition 2019 in Montréal, Canada

Global calls for proposals will identify underutilized urban land in urban areas that can be quickly made available for redevelopment. The initiative invites developers, architects, environmentalists and creative minds to collaborate and compete to build beacons of sustainable and future-proof construction on these sites. Reinventing Cities is a model of how collaboration between cities and businesses can shape the future by enabling healthier, greener, and economically viable urban development.

In 2019, our partner Figurr Architectural Collective was invited to participate in the C40 Reinventing Cities competition for a site in Montréal. The opportunity to create change in their own city created excitement and a drive they could not ignore. Working with local and  international partners such as White Arkitektar and ARUP, among others, they entered the competition. 

Figurr and their partners’ vision for the tendered site in Montréal addressed circular economy at the level of a neighborhood that would be as self-sufficient as possible while ensuring that it would be a vibrant place, essential to the life of a neighborhood. The proposition, a residential carbon-neutral neighborhood comprised of buildings between 13 and 25 stories tall, houses 501 living units and takes place in the Ville-Marie borough on the border of the Griffintown district, near downtown Montréal and on the edge of the Lachine Canal. They designed a project that provides a framework for harmoniously anchoring a local, innovative, dynamic, and diversified community that unfolds vertically while anchored in a desire to radiate horizontally far beyond its immediate surroundings.

C40 Reinventing Cities: Competition 2019 in Montréal, Canada

The design approach is based on three areas of active production: food, art and energy. The installation of an aquaponic farm can provide food security based on a “locavore” approach, while serving as a meeting place. The development of multiple spaces – a dynamic public plaza, a gathering space open to the community, and the constant presence of workspaces that encourage artists and artisans to be creative – should activate the potential of interactions needed to live and learn in a vibrant environment.

The building’s design allows for an environmental footprint that is groundbreaking for a real estate project in a mixed-use, high-density district. Thanks to the consideration of the microclimatic conditions of the site, a building envelope that reaches the performance level of a passive house, exemplary waste management, exemplary water management, and an overall effort to limit carbon emissions from the design to the operation of the building, the energy efficiency of this design makes it an international reference for projects of this type. 

The project was well received by the jury and was shortlisted for second place. The project’s environmental impact assessment and the measures implemented would have allowed the project to achieve the performance levels of the C40 Climate Positive, Living Building Certification (Zero Energy, Energy and Health), PassivHaus, LEED and ZCBS certifications. In operation, the project would have achieved a near-zero carbon footprint. Taking into account the renewable energy certificates (RECs) to be purchased annually (7.4 T), the project could have achieved carbon neutrality.

The experience from this competition has made the Figurr team more deeply aware of aspects of sustainability, which has influenced their further work and made them more competent and aware of this pressing issue. Figurr is an important development partner of our Hyperion project and will contribute to the success of Hyperion with its experience from the C40 participation.